Saturday, 27 June 2015


I don’t consider myself to be a religious person. I was brought up a Catholic and I was lead to believe that catholicism is the only right way in this world. Then, through family ties, I encountered Islam, that also claimed to be the only way of this world.

Years later, I was introduced to Jehovah’s witnesses, when they knocked at our family door once, and, unsurprisingly enough, they claimed their religion was the only way to go.

When I worked in China, I found that people still pray to an infinite number of Gods - just like our ancestors throughout history in ancient Greece and Latin Rome. Heck, my name even comes from a Greek and Roman Goddess. Read any kind of European mythology and you will find numerous Gods in every country.

Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of conversing with great Rabbis from the United States and Israel and, low and behold, they believe their religion is the salvation of human beings.

I’ve read the Torah, the Vedic Scriptures from India, the Holy Bible, the Holy Qur’an, the Japanese Bushinko, the Egyptian and Tibetan books of the Dead. I’ve read about the Bonn religion, Russian and Greek orthodox religions and Hinduism. I’ve studied Shamanism and Buddhism and I could mention many more.

Yet, in 2009, I converted to Buddhism, not because I was seeking a religion. I’m openly, and honestly, not good at following any set of religious rules and rituals. I’m not even capable of having, or following, ritualistic patterns in my everyday life, let alone my spiritual one. I never get out of bed at the same time daily. I never eat at regular meal times and the list could go on. I guess I just don’t have enough self-discipline in that area, or perhaps deep down I feel it’s all a waste of time.

In all honesty, I probably make a terrible Buddhist. I don’t follow any kind of formalised, or institutionalised indoctrination and I don’t pray conventionally. I don’t chant properly or frequently enough. My meditation practice is falling a little by the wayside and I’ve probably broken a few of the vows I took when I converted.

Yet, I don’t go out of my way to harm people or other living beings. I don’t go out of my way to harm the environment we live in. In fact, the three main Buddhist principles I try and follow every single day of my life are: love, kindness and compassion towards other living beings even though it’s not always easy. I’ve always said that mosquitoes will be the reason I’ll stay in Samsara for all eternity and my thoughts of wanting to slap around a few high-maintenance, pretentiously demanding, and thoughtless tourists on holiday is very very remote from being a good Buddhist.

None the less, I don’t go around slapping people every time I feel like I want to. On the contrary,  every day of my life, I still try to make a tiny little difference in someone else’s life and do something to avoid harming the natural world we live in. Sadly, mosquitoes are excluded from this conversation. 

The atheists among you would argue that you don’t need to be religious to be kind and you’d be absolutely right. Religion doesn’t teach us to be kind. Your parents, your education, the very foundations of your moral and ethical being teach you to be kind. You don’t have to be religious to be a kind person.

We can argue that you don’t need a God to tell you to be compassionate, which is absolutely correct. You can learn to be compassionate from a friend, a relative, from doing volunteer work, from empathising with people in circumstances different, or less fortunate than your own. You certainly don’t need a supreme being to show you how to be loving.

In fact, my strong belief is that we’re already, naturally, creatures of love. We were born from an act of love and anyone who has ever done something nice for someone else will also know how good it feels to see someone happy thanks to something we’ve done. It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world.

However, I do understand that many people in the world find these qualities difficult and need guidance to adhere to them. If that guidance comes from their God, and makes them happy and better people, then so be it. Who am I to say it’s wrong. I fully understand that a lot of people need a supreme being to believe in for their own peace of mind when things go wrong, when they need help and when there is nothing in their lives but despair. 

I completely comprehend the need many people have to believe in supernatural powers that can save them. For many, faith is all there is and why should that be wrong? As long as it harms no others in the process.

My personal reasons for converting to Buddhism were:

I’m not capable of being an Atheist. I believe that, in whatever form and with whatever name anyone wishes to call it, there is a very powerful energetic source of all creation out there. Ever since studying physics back in college and metaphysics during my university days, I’ve adhered to the philosophy that the beginning of all things is energy and that energy, by its very nature can be magnified, reduced and transformed but it can never be destroyed. 

Since all energy is derived from atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons, which are particles that form the basic composition of everything. We are no more than a bundle of unified energy on two legs. Of course, this is only the opinion of a ranting woman. I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me.

For the first time in my life, during any religious gathering, or retreat in this case, I heard a Buddhist monk, who I now love dearly and who I consider to be my heart teacher, say: “Buddhism respects all religions, beliefs and cultures.” His words resonated so deeply within me, that I knew I was in the right place and among my kind of people. 

In fact, in all the time I’ve spent in India and Nepal, among Tibetan people and those who have chosen the path of Buddhism, I’ve never heard a bad word said against any religion.

The point of saying all this though, is not to convert anyone to Buddhism nor convince anyone that Buddhism is the way to go. Not at all.

My point is, if one major religion of the world, like Buddhism, can accept and respect all other religions and ideologies, why the hell can’t all the other religions? and yes, surprisingly enough, Buddhism is one of the major religions since studies estimate that close to1 billion people practice it on a global scale. 

Is a question of arrogance and pride?  Is it because each religion wants to be right about its ideology and beliefs? Or, can it simply be a question of what it’s always been about; politics, manipulation and control. Secular powers preying on the beliefs of human being based on existential insecurities. 

I’ll address, more in depth, what I mean in my next article - Religious Ideologies.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Being in a wheelchair

Ever since I was of an age to really understand, I’ve always had the utmost respect for people in wheelchairs. I’ve sympathised with their predicament but I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood it until now.

In 1996 or 1997, one of my University residential course investigations was about the attitudes people have towards those in wheelchairs. Six of us aspiring psychology graduates, back in 1996 or 1997 took to the streets of Brighton to investigate whether people, in general, give those in wheelchairs due respect or if they talk to the person pushing the wheelchair.

We set the investigation up in such a way that we had a person in a wheelchair and another acting as a carer; pushing the wheelchair. The rest of us strategically positioned ourselves, at various angles, to observe people’s behaviours as they were approached by our colleagues. We each took it in turns to be in the wheelchair, as well, so we could get a real sense of what it was like in the firing line so to speak.

As part of the investigation we got the person in the wheelchair to stop people at random and ask them for directions or information. What we found was that 7 out of 10 people would respond to the carer and not the person in the wheelchair. It was shocking and appalling to say the least.

We also found that when we pushed the wheelchair head on into people, in an accidental way, and without any direct contact that could cause any physical harm, the majority would look away or look at the carer. In each case, they ignored the person sat down.

From that day forward, I was always my awareness of the attitudes people had towards disability was somewhat enhanced. I actually found it quite heartbreaking on a lot of levels.

Just recently, my broken foot and having to totally rely on another person, for everything, has taught me that it’s one thing to be placed in a wheelchair for an hour or two and then be able to get up and walk away. Yet, it’s a whole different story when you are completely confined and unable to get up at any time.

Personally, I found there is nothing more frustrating than having a very strong mind, a cast iron will, a perfectly capable upper body and a lower limb that’s just not having any of it. It won’t move, it can’t move. It’s too painful to bend or stretch. It’s just there; dangling and doing nothing.

Every time I felt I just wanted to get up and walk across the room, the physical interfered and the mind, that wanted to scream, was forced to shut up. I might add here that it’s taken years of Meditation and a fair amount of Buddhist practice to learn to listen when I tell my mind to shut up. Mental silence is the only thing that has kept my sanity over the last 5 weeks. Well, that and painting, writing, working from home and catching up on so many things I’ve let go by the wayside for a long while.

From my 4 week experience of life on wheels, I’ve learned so much. Life in a wheelchair really does takes on a whole different perspective and I don’t just mean in one’s outlook. I mean, physically, mentally and emotionally. Everything changes.

So much that we take for granted, as vertical bipeds becomes so difficult, virtually impossible or unbearable.

A few examples:

Getting in and out of a bath for a shower. Standing on one foot to have said shower. I’m not even going to go into the dangers of showering on foot. I’m sure you can imagine them. 

Cooking and washing dishes. In a wheelchair it’s quite difficult to reach any standard sink properly just to wash one’s hands let alone wash dishes. The same applies to cookers. I’m seriously thinking that standard kitchens are predominantly designed for bipeds and too high for proper wheelchair access. 

Shopping, which also means completely relying on someone to get the wheelchair in the car, drive to a shop, get the wheelchair out of the car, get things off shelves, (which are also not designed for people in wheelchairs), push a shopping trolley, bag all the shopping and carry it out of the shop back to the car where they then have to put the wheelchair back in the car and drive all the way home. Now, I’m not saying this is the case with every person in a wheelchair but it may be the case a lot of the time. 

For a biped who’s use to just popping out to the local store when she’s run out of bread or fancies a bit of chocolate, there is nothing more frustrating than having to wait for a particular day and time that someone can go to the shop for you or take you there. The only positive aspect to this is that one can quickly learn the art of shopping discipline. By that I mean how to make a proper shopping list, how not to forget anything and how to learn to do without, and find alternatives, when something runs out.

Going to a doctor or going for a hospital appointment. There’s the same old reliance on someone to get you there. Once you’re there, there’s the problem of parking, going up ramps, finding the ramps in the first place, getting into and out of lifts, especially when the lift is small and filled with bipeds who are faster than you and standing behind you. You could cut the air of angry frustration among some of them when you’re trying to maneuver out of their way and you’re taking a little more time than they would like. 

Generally, just being at home all day and all night at the mercy of the kindness of someone who will help you or take you out. Life seems to be very limiting, and confined, when you’re not able to drive yourself, get yourself on a bus or in a taxi.

In the few times that I’ve had the great pleasure of being able to go out, and trust me, after a while even a trip to the doctors feels like a major outing, I’ve had a mixture of reactions from people towards the wheelchair and I. Some people smiled at me sympathetically. Others had that curious: “I wonder what’s up with her” look. Some looked a little disturbed by my being there and just a few kind souls wanted to help me, push me, get things off top shelves for me.

I found there were still cases of people avoiding eye contact with me but, I’m not sure if that can be owing to the fact that we’ve become a cold, segregated society where we don’t generally tend to make eye contact or if, in fact, it was because of the wheelchair.

Surprisingly enough, or not, there were also a few times where people would almost fall over the wheelchair. Yes, I’m still boggled by that one but, let’s face it, there are people out there who are so wrapped up in their own little bubble that they haven’t got a clue what’s going on around them.

Over the last few days I’ve progressed out of the wheelchair and taken my first few steps with crutches. It’s an alleviating feeling to be upright again. I feel a sense of victory at finally moving my limbs.

Yet, I noticed, for example, that my visionary field had adjusted its perspective to cope with my new situation. When I went into the kitchen, as an upright biped, I had a little difficulty viewing the correct depth and distance of the counter tops. My brain thought it was odd viewing the kitchen again from a taller point of view. It threw me off balance for a few moments.

Every time I stand now, I feel taller, which of course I am, compared to when I sit in the chair. It might seem like no big deal but it is to someone who has always considered herself a shorty.

I still can’t drive yet, so my freedom is still limited, but I am able to slowly hobble out onto my balcony with my crutches and admire the sea, breathe in some fresh air and fill my soul  with something other than four walls of concrete and a computer.

The great thing about all this is that I’ve had major time to reflect and admire how we as people have the capacity to adapt so rapidly to new situations when we go with the flow instead of fighting against the tide. When our mind is resolute and our will is strong, nothing can stop us from doing anything and no amount of change can break us.

If ever there was a time I was grateful for my mind, (and everything in it) and this body and its capabilities, that time is definitely now.  Don’t take what you have for granted. Appreciate it and look after it.  After all, you don’t want to lose it.

To all of you out there in a wheelchair, you have my utmost respect and admiration!!! You truly rock!!!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Your dream life!

Are you living the life you dreamed of? Do you feel fulfilled with your life and the way you live? Are you grateful for the life you have?

If you do, then: Congratulations to you! It's fantastic that you're living the life you dreamt of. You've already achieved more than many people will ever do throughout their entire lifetime. Most people will only ever dream of being paid to do what they love.

It’s wonderful to see someone in such a privileged position showing gratitude for it and it is a privilege.

 Sadly, and especially nowadays in the midst of a world crisis, bills and responsibilities are preventing a lot of people from taking the plunge and just following their passion in life. Needs must - as they say. So, necessities have to precede pleasure. 

Many people also let insecurities and other peoples' negative opinions stand between their dream and what “has to be done” in accordance with a flawed system, in an economically driven society, that makes “having money” essential.

Yet, money should never be a motivating factor. If you love something and have a passion for it, getting paid to do it is just a bonus. It’s the icing on the cake. Realistically speaking, if you don’t have a passion for something, no matter how much money you get paid for it, you will never do it well because your heart will never be in it.

I’ve been writing online for over a decade and I hosted numerous radio shows online and in real time. I’ve volunteered around the world and never earned a penny from any of it. Why? because what I felt I had to say to others far outweighs the economic reward I could have ever gained from it. Letters of gratitude from people I’ve never met can’t be financially valued and nobody can put a price tag on the difference you make in someone else’s life.

However, we do live in a real world where bills and necessities must. So, like I said before, you are in a wonderfully privileged position and hats off to you. Well done!

On the other hand, did you answer no to my questions above? If you did, then perhaps you need a little coaching from a professional. Allow me to give you some guidance on how to improve your life, achieve your goals and live the life you've always imagined yourself to be living.

Life begins now. You can't change what has been but you can write the future.

Friday, 19 June 2015


Another question is ... two people want to mutually end a relationship but one person ends it before the other; causing immense pain and heartbreak ... how do you deal with it and what advice can you give in 10 stages? ... wow ... putting me through my paces today ... I'm no relationship expert but's my reply:

If both parties wanted to mutually end the relationship that tells us something has been wrong for quite some time. Under normal circumstances (whatever they may be) if the people involved are rationally sound, they wouldn’t decide to end a relationship just for the sake of it nor out of the blue nor on a whim.

The fact that they both wanted to end the relationship also tells us that both parties felt incompatible with each other for whatever reasons. They shared a common feeling that things weren’t working between them and that neither party was happy. In that knowledge, one would assume that their rational mind knows the best thing for them to do is separate.

So, although I appreciate the fact that every break up has its consequences, if a person, who wants to break up from their partner, feels distressed and heartbroken over “being dumped first” rather than being the one “doing the dumping” it’s not a mourning for the relationship as much as it is a matter of pride and ego being hurt.

So, maybe steps 1, 2 and 3 should be:

1) An analysis the relationship to create a realisation, and eventual awareness/acceptance of what was wrong and why there was a mutual desire to end it.

Awareness, acknowledgement and acceptance are tools for empowerment.

2) Create an understanding that we’re not going to be compatible with all the people we encounter in life. Many people come into our lives for a specific reason at a specific moment in time when we need them or when they need to teach us something. Or, perhaps, they appear when they need us to teach them something. People come and go from our lives, very few stay for a long duration.
Incompatibility doesn’t mean unworthy, unlovable or undesirable. This should be reinforced in the wounded party.

3) Getting the injured party to admit that the breakup is, in fact, mutually beneficial. There is no “dumping” and “being dumped”.Looking at the relationship realistically, if they both wanted to end it but neither one had taken the dreaded initiative to do so, who knows how long the suffering and pretense would have carried on for. They would have ended up making each others‘ lives a misery. So, ending it was a positive thing.

Steps 4 through to 10 should be about:

- Taking time to learn to be with one’s self and love one’s own self. It’s a new chapter in a new phase of life. It can be written any which way even if that means reinventing one’s self. This is a phase for reflection and introspection. Spending quality time with friends and family.

Having a life re-assessment. Creating new happiness within one’s self.After all, we cannot rely on others to create our happiness nor should we enter a relationship with the idea that someone else is going to make us happy. That’s a lot of responsibility to hand over to someone else. When they fail to live up to our expectations, we feel they’ve failed us. We feel let down and hurt and, eventually, we repeat the same mistakes again and again.

If we’re already happy when we meet someone, their presence in our life will be complimentary to it and not a necessity.

Finding new hobbies/interests, join clubs and find passions in life that are both enjoyable and lead to meeting new people.

Eventually finding the positive lessons learned from the broken relationship, forgiving the wrong and letting go.

Travelling, broadening horizons and doing all the things you feel you can’t do when you’re in a relationship.

Meeting someone new and moving on. Everything in life has a certain amount of risk but never taking a risk means never discovering new opportunites and life really is too short to shut all doors.

Of course, Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor would anyone work through these stages in 5 minutes. Everyone progresses at their own pace in life and just as well. It would be boring if we were all the same.

One global love

Why do we auto-destruct?

So, someone asks why we continue to carry out repetitive destructive behaviour even when we are pretty well informed about the negative effects this behaviour can have on our lives and especially when we know this behaviour can compromise our health. My reply ...

Sadly, in today’s society, many people choose to turn away from “reality” as it is. Too much knowledge can be just as dangerous as not enough.

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to switch off to what we don’t want to hear because it’s too painful or because we don’t want to accept it as a truth or because, in some cases, the bad things become our comfort. We feel safe with them and as damaging as they are, we don’t want to let go of them. Nor do we wish to deprive ourselves of them because we’d feel cheated of something or, perhaps, neglected.
In today’s society, everything has become so readily available and so easily obtainable that we don’t like to deny ourselves anything. Maybe the blame here should lay with clever media marketing techniques that make people believe they’re inferior if something is lacking in their lives. It’s become common practice to look at what we don’t have instead of appreciating, and be grateful, for what we do have.

Having a society of content, grateful people doesn’t make good economics. Only people who feel they aren’t adequate enough will seek happiness and comfort in “things” outside themselves. It’s a subtle form of manipulation, and control, to get people to buy things and to behave in certain ways.
When I say “things” it could be anything that creates a temporary illusion of happiness. Temporary is the key word here, and this is why so many people continue with repetitive destructive behaviour in search of another fleeting moment of happiness.

Lasting happiness can only come from within. It can never be found outside one’s own self and nothing, and no-one, can ever be responsible for the creation of it. Yet, we continue to pass up on this responsibility and seek comfort elsewhere; like food. Its aromas and flavours remind us of people, places, events. It could be anything from a full Sunday roast with loving granny and grandpa, with whom we felt safe and loved, to an ice-cream on the pier, as a child, when the family was having a blissful day out. For a child, there are no cares in the world, no responsibilities. Everything is easy. There are no life decisions to be made.

Hence, the repetition of destructive behaviour that takes us back, consciously or unconsciously, to a carefree time in our life makes us escape for a while from the harsh reality of being an adult. I’m not saying that every case is the same because every individual is unique but it’s definitely something to consider.

Treat yourselves kindly dear ones. One global love

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Don't fly Vueling Airlines

On May the 21st, 2015, I flew into Roma Fiumicino in order to catch a connecting Vueling flight from Fiumicino to Malaga due to leave within 90 minutes from my arrival. When I arrived in Terminal 3, I couldn't find my flight on the board. So, I asked an airport official who sent me to Terminal 1.

At Terminal 1, they sent me to Terminal 2. When I finally arrived at the Vueling check in desk, a very rude Vueling employee informed me that my flight was cancelled and rescheduled to fly from Roma Ciampino. Not knowing the airport nor how to get there, I asked for help and was denied any. Vueling claimed it was not their responsibility to get me to the new airport.

With only 55 minutes left to catch my flight, extremely stressed out and in a panic, I had to hurry through the airport, which led me to fall and break my foot. Nobody came to my assistance, not even Vueling. So, with a broken foot I had to make my way to a taxi, which cost me 60 euros to get to Ciampino.

Upon arrival at the check in desk in Ciampino, unable to stand or walk any further, I sat on the baggage belt and tried to ask the Vueling representative, at the desk, for airport assistance and help. He told me to wait in the queue. To which, at this point, and in so much pain, I told him that even if I could get up (which I couldn't) I wasn't going to until I got some help.

After some muttering under his breath, he arranged airport assistance, and without offering any help at all, told me to go and sit on chairs that were at least 4 meters away from the desk until the assistance could arrive. Anyone who has ever broken their foot will appreciate the agony of moving at all let alone that distance.

The only people who were mildly helpful were the cabin crew because they could see the pain I was in throughout the flight. They even gave me a complaint form to fill in.

The very next day, after arriving back in Spain, I was hospitalised, my leg put in plaster and given sick leave from work. In all, to the day I will be able to go back to work, I will have lost 1250€ in earnings, not to mention the pain, stress and frustration of not being able to move for the last few weeks.

I contacted Vueling, demanding some form of compensation and their response was to refund me 40€ and deny their responsibilities by hiding behind legal jargon. This is absolutely shameful.

I will NEVER recommend this airline to anyone. As they don't look after their clients, they don't deserve to have any.